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NY Jets: Avery Williamson will be fighting for his roster spot in the preseason

NY Jets (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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NY Jets linebacker Avery Williamson will be fighting for his roster spot in the preseason.

The NY Jets‘ roster was dedicated by injuries last season and their awful string of misfortune really started back in the third preseason game when linebacker Avery Williamson went down with a serious knee injury.

Williamson would end up missing the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL — a devastating blow to a defense that was hit hard by injuries. For a player who had missed just one game over the first five years of his NFL career, this must have been heartbreaking.

And for a Jets fanbase that was excited to see Williamson play alongside new position-mate C.J. Mosley, it certainly was disappointing to see both players essentially miss the entire year.

But now going into 2020, the hope is that both players are healthy once again. Mosley underwent offseason surgery to repair a nagging groin injury while Williamson is still rehabbing his torn ACL.

Expectations are high, but perhaps it’s best to curb those expectations just a little bit.

What exactly should NY Jets fans be expecting from Avery Williamson in 2020?

Some expected Williamson — who is set to make $8.5 million in 2020 — to be an offseason cap casualty. And while he remains on the roster right now, he isn’t guaranteed anything.

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That notion was doubled down on by ESPN’s Rich Cimini who reported in a recent article that Williamson “will get a chance in the preseason to make the team” but that his “recovery from ACL surgery will factor heavily into the decision.”

Those were Cimini’s words in a report, but they came straight from the mouth of inside linebackers coach Frank Bush who spoke with reporters on Friday along with the rest of the coaching staff.

It’s always difficult to predict how a player will recover from a serious injury such as an ACL tear. Some players come back and play better than ever like Adrian Peterson. Others are never the same again.

Williamson isn’t necessarily old, but at 28-years-old he’s probably entered the back-half of his NFL career at this point. And it’s unclear just how the rehab process has gone for him.

If healthy, Williamson is clearly the best linebacker on the team behind Mosley. And if both players are healthy, the Jets could easily have a top-three linebacker corps in the NFL.

But that’s a big if,” and Williamson knows that he isn’t guaranteed anything this preseason. The Jets could save $6.5 million in cap space if they cut him before the start of the season — a decision they might make if he looks to have lost a step or two in training camp.

There is perhaps no deeper position on the Jets’ roster than linebacker as the team saw firsthand a number of players step up following multiple injuries last season.

Players like Patrick Onwuasor, Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, and Blake Cashman all have starting experience and represent younger, cheaper options than Williamson.

If any of them — especially Onwuasor or Cashman — prove that they’re ready to take on a full-time starting role, the Jets won’t hesitate to move on from Williamson.

In a perfect world, the duo of Mosley and Williamson will return in 2020 and become one of the best linebacker pairings in the NFL.

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But it’s important to remember, that’s far from a guarantee heading into the summer.

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